Rev. Lisa Harris-Lee
American Baptist Home Mission Societies
Work Phone: 800.222.3872, x2158
Rev. Lisa R. Harris-Lee, national coordinator, Justice for Children Initiative/Christian Center Relations, joined American Baptist Home Mission Societies’ (ABHMS) staff in September 2008. She brings to her position the same passion that helped her answer the call to ordained ministry in 1994—“a passion to bring people as close to God and as close to one another as possible,” based on the great commandment to love God, neighbor, and self.
For Harris-Lee, mission is a “call to be witnesses in a world that is out-of-balance spiritually, emotionally and materially. It is a call to be missionaries in a cross-cultural, cross-generational, cross-economical way that sometimes requires we cross oceans and borders and, other times, requires we just cross the street or county line.” Ministry has called Harris-Lee to communities in 34 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Guyana, Haiti, Thailand, Burma and South Africa. Prior to attending seminary, Harris-Lee served for two years in public policy positions in New Jersey and Washington, D.C.
Her leadership with the Children in Poverty initiative is clearly a prophetic matter close to her heart. In this position, Harris-Lee seeks to raise awareness and help congregations address issues related to the more than 14 million children in the United States and Puerto Rico living in poverty.
“It is hard to have a commitment to mission without also having a commitment to stewardship,” she says. “I have often quoted a statement of Gandhi that is truly a Kingdom of God truth: ‘God has provided enough for the world’s hunger, but there will never be enough of anything for the world’s greed.’ I am fairly certain that the real problem in our world is not poverty. It is greed. There is a simple promise rehearsed and realized from Genesis to Revelation summarized in Philippians 4:19: ‘My God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to [God’s] riches in glory in Christ Jesus.’ As Christians, God does not put more in our hands in order for us to gain more—but so we may give more!”
Her leadership promoting and supporting ministries of the 17 NAP centers is informed by her work at Bethel Center. “Matters related to poverty are not only about money,” she says. “Most of the issues are about sustaining community.” In the years she served at Bethel Center, she celebrated its intergenerational, multicultural community. “It is important that our Christian centers address material needs,” she says, “but more of their work and priority focuses on renewing hope, extending compassion and grace, affirming a person’s gifts and value, strengthening personal development, and providing a safe place for children and adults to gather, learn, worship and play—all the things that go into nurturing relationships and community.” Harris-Lee recognizes that God is doing amazing work in the world and is grateful that God invites each one of us to be part of it.
- M.Div., The Divinity School, Duke University, Durham, N.C.
- B.A., Douglass College, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J.
- Executive Director of Bethel Neighborhood Center, Kansas City, Kan., a National Ministries Neighborhood Action Program (NAP) Christian Center. In that position she also served as pastor of Bethel New Beginnings Baptist Church in Kansas City.
- Associate Executive Minister for Mission, Stewardship and Communication, Philadelphia Baptist Association
- Minister of Mission Support – American Baptist Churches NJ, Philadelphia Baptist Association.
- Associate minister congregations in North Carolina and New Jersey.
- Congregational Support, Mission Interpretation, and Development, Hinton Rural Life Center – Mission Agency Southeastern Jurisdiction United Methodist Church.
- Domestic and International Mission Team leadership
- Joined ABHMS’ staff: Sept. 2008
- Ordained: May 28, 1998
- Birthday: May 2